Disclaimer: I do not own Digimon.

Here's the new chapter. Sorry, it took a little long to update. Tell me what you think, as always. It's really helpful to know what's good and what needs to be improved on. Also, like in the previous chapter, I had mentioned telling me what you think each character should be interested in or best choice for boy-girl relationship (crush) and why. I will continue to consider who gets who based on most popular preferences and such. Also, if you're interested and if it works out, tell me certain events you would like me to add in upcoming chapters and I will decide whether to put them in or not, particularly if I think they would go along well with the story and help keep it moving. An example would be: event: Daiki and Taka save each other's lives, or Taylor tells Aiko how he really feels about her. Anyway, enjoy this chapter. I will be updating the next chapter soon.

Chapter Seven: First Encounter with Gennai

Chika Hida

Odaiba, Tokyo, Japan

Chika stared at the funny-looking stuffed animal her best friend was holding. Where had he gotten it?

"Akira...I...I never saw any stuffed animal looking like that..."

Chika stopped when she thought she saw the animal's eyes blink and mouth and nose twitch.

"What's going on? Am I seeing things? Or is his stuffed animal actually alive? No. It couldn't be. I'm probably just imagining it."

"Akira...what's going on?" Chika asked, noticing a sudden uneasy look on his face.

"My friend Daiki gave him to me," Akira answered, clutching the stuffed animal tighter.

"Daiki...Motomiya?! He's your new friend now?" Chika sounded upset and a little defensive, not wanting to believe she had been replaced.

It was true she wanted Akira all to herself and couldn't stand the thought of he might be friends with someone else. She suddenly remembered one night almost a year ago when she overheard her parents talking in the kitchen, seated at the table.

"Cody, it's amazing our daughter has taken so well to Akira and is so close to him now, especially considering the stories I've heard about how you reacted to Ken."

"Yeah. Ironic, huh?" Cody said, smiling. "He was one person I couldn't stand at first, but we've patched things up since then. Ken and I are good friends now, but aren't overly close like Tai and Matt, for example."

Chihiro put her hand over Cody's. He looked at his wife closely.

"Cody, honey, Chika is...don't you think she's too close to Akira, almost like he's her obsession?"

Chika hadn't heard the rest as she raced up to her bedroom, fighting back tears.

"What's wrong with having a best friend? And what's with my parents' large group of friends? They hang out with them frequently and I can't hang out with the one boy I like a lot? I really never got why my parents have so many good, close friends who are so different from each other. They may be close but I'm not close to any of their kids, besides Akira..."

Chika had been troubled like this since she first heard it. Sure, she may have been confident outwardly, but inwardly, she was troubled. Troubled her parents would want her to play with other children besides Akira and she was more troubled Akira would lose interest in their friendship. That's why she was concerned when she heard Akira talking about a new friend. What was that all about? Had she really been replaced by Daiki?

"Come inside, Chika," invited Akira, brightening up and holding his "stuffed animal" closer to his chest.

Chika felt more relieved and went with Akira inside.

Taka Ishida

Odaiba, Tokyo, Japan

Taka was lying down on his bed, already dressed in his pyjamas. Veifoxmon was beside him. They were listening to the second CD produced by the Teenage Wolves.

"Boy, your dad is really good. He's the lead singer and guitarist, right?"

Taka nodded. His eyes were looking teary.

"Taka, if you need to cry, just let it out," Veifoxmon told him.

Taka looked up at the ceiling. The CD went to the next song.

"I can't believe how horrible I've been to both my cousins," he whispered.

Veifoxmon listened closely to his partner, without saying anything until Taka finished.

"Watching Andy today, I've seen a new side to him I've never seen before. All these years we could have been best buddies but I was too proud to look beyond what others assumed about him, fearing I'd lose my friends or be called the same names Andy was called. How could he live under all that hatred and false assumptions by people who chose not to try to understand? How could I, his own cousin, be so cruel? I feel so terrible now. I don't know if I can forgive myself or if Andy could."
Veifoxmon thought about what Taka told him.

"You can't change the past but you can do something about it now."

Taka rubbed his eyes.

"You're right. Thanks, buddy. I'm going to give him a call right now."

Taka sat up and went in the hall to call the Takaishi residence.

"Hi, Uncle TK. Is Andy there? Yeah? Can I talk to him? Thanks... Hi Andy! It's Taka. Listen, about today..."

Veifoxmon watched his partner, peeking out from behind the door and smiling as he watched Taka trying to patch things up with his cousin. Obviously, Andy was understanding and hadn't held any grudges from being misunderstood and shunned after all this time. Veifoxmon was also relieved Taka had opened up to him.

Daiki Motomiya

Odaiba, Tokyo, Japan

The next day at lunch, Daiki noticed how well Taka and Andy were getting along and wondered why. Even in the digital world, they weren't speaking to each other much. Now it looked like they had been best friends for years.

"Taka better not replace me with Andy. I don't mind that they're getting along now. I just don't want to lose my best friend..."

Aiko's sweet voice interrupted his thoughts.

"We are going back after school, aren't we?" she asked, putting a hand behind her head.

Taka put a hand on her arm.

"Of course we are. I know how much you and our digimon want to continue on the quest of saving (in a whisper so other students wouldn't hear) the digital world. (in regular voice now) We all are just as anxious to save it."

Aiko began to blush but only Taka noticed. Chikako and Misty had also joined them for lunch, along with Andy.

"We'll have to round up Akira after school. Chikako, you don't have any chess or computer club to attend, do you?" Daiki asked.

Chikako rolled her eyes.

"I'm not that much of a nerd, you know. Besides, I like to get home early to finish my homework so I'll have all night to study (everyone else sweat-dropped) or help my friends, especially considering how much Andy is behind."

Andy blushed and began to turn beet-red.

"Chikako! You weren't supposed to tell anyone," he stammered.

Chikako smirked.

"Well, now everyone knows, so you'd better bring your marks up and let me help you instead of playing those silly video games much of the time."

Andy groaned.

"They're not silly," he muttered.

Misty put a hand on his shoulder for comfort and smiled fondly at her twin in understanding.

Taka spoke up.

"Come on, Chikako. Cut Andy some slack. We're all going to have difficulty keeping up, even you. Or have you forgotten that we're on a very important mission?"

Chikako's cheeks went warm as she looked down.

"I haven't forgotten. I'm just trying to help."

Daiki looked at her.

"We know, Chikako. But even you have to admit how important saving the digital world is."

Chikako only nodded.

When it was time for them to go back, they noticed something odd upon returning. A lot more digimon were in sight and the digital world looked like it had regained its vitality. Whereas, before, the digital world had seemed almost like a ghost world.

"Is the threat gone?" Akira asked, sounding disappointed.

He obviously didn't want to end his friendship with Mousemon so soon if that had to be the case once the threat was gone and they were no longer needed.

"Unicomon's horn!"

Daiki turned around sharply. He saw Misty standing beside her partner. Unicomon's horn was glowing. As much as he wanted the threat gone, he shared Akira's thoughts and liked coming to the digital world and continuing his friendship with Dragolmon.

A fairly large shadow began to cover them just then. The kids and their digimon looked up against the sun's blinding rays and saw what looked like a figure of a digimon looming over them. The kids rolled out of the way with their digimon just as Gardromon descended to the ground, carrying Gennai. He cleared his throat.

"Greetings, children! Welcome to the Digital World. I am Gennai."

Daiki frowned and went forward.

"So, you're Gennai! But you're human like us. I'm Daiki-"

"I know who you are, Daiki Motomiya. I know who all of you are. My suspicions were correct. There is an evil force threatening the digital world."

"We could have told you that," Daiki said, sarcastically. "We heard a sinister laugh all the times we were here."

"Daiki!" corrected Aiko.

"It's alright, Aiko. Daiki, reminds me so much of someone I used to know."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Anyway, I'm sure you're wondering why I look like an human adult."

"Not really. But now that you mention it..." said Andy.

"I'm as digital as the digimon but I don't have any powers like they do. I am one of the watchers of the digital world. Anyway, only human children can come to the digital world. It is their imagination, innocence and will to save the digital world that keeps it surviving. Human adults seemed to have lost that as they grew up, although I wonder about some others."

Taka spoke up.

"Mr. Gennai, sir. Why is the digital world looking better? The past two times we were here, it was almost like a ghost world."

"You'll have to figure that out on your own. All I can say is, listen to Unicomon's warnings, children take care of your partners, and digimon, protect your human partners at all costs."

With that, Gennai left before they could say anything or ask him any more questions.

"He sure left in a hurry," pointed out Aiko.

"That was real helpful. He sure didn't say much of anything we didn't already know. But why did he tell me I reminded him of someone? Have there been other children here before?" Daiki sounded disappointed.

Dragolmon flew near his partner's head.

"Cheer up, Daiki. Gennai is normally like that. He's very important to this world and has a lot of important work to do."

"And we don't?"

"I didn't mean it that way. He cares about us very much, even if he doesn't always show it."

"You got that right."

Taka went beside him and stared up at the sky. Daiki looked at his friend.

"We need to figure out what to do. The digital world depends on us."

Daiki closed his eyes and nodded.

"I know," he muttered. "We're just sitting ducks here. We don't really have any clue as to how to save the digital world."

Akira and Mousemon ran up to them.

"Where do we go from here?"

"Ask Chikako," was all Daiki answered, looking troubled.

The rest of the kids looked at Chikako. She felt her cheeks turn warm and red upon being the centre of attention. Quickly, she got out her D-Phone and scrolled through the map.

"Our next stop is southwest of here, about a mile."

"Alright. Let's go," shouted Akira, excitedly.

They traveled through a thick and dense forest, feeling hot and sticky. Daiki turned around and began walking backwards as he watched Andy, Misty and Chikako engrossed in a serious conversation, with their digimon. Daiki winced when he felt a light punch on his arm.

"Ow! Taka, what'd you do that for?"

Taka sighed.

"Daiki, it's a good thing you have me and the rest of us here to keep you from getting yourself in over your head. Turn around, slowly," he instructed.

Foximon stared up at the two of them and Dragolmon glanced at them from the corner of his eye as he fluttered in the air.

Daiki did as he was told and came face to face with a tall tree. His nose was barely touching the thick bark.

"Saved you from getting hurt, didn't I?" Taka smiled.

"Yeah, well...thanks."

"No problem. That's what friends are for. I always look out for you in case you didn't notice."

Daiki sighed and stepped away from the tree.

"I noticed and I appreciate it. One of us has to stay on track," smiled Daiki.

Taka blushed.

Akira, who was walking beside Aiko and Canarymon, holding Mousemon behind Daiki and Taka and their digimon, stopped and waited fro the other three and their digimon to catch up. Aiko and Canarymon joined the two boys and their digimon up ahead.

"Andy, I'm feeling kind of tired. Could you give me a piggyback ride, please?"

"We're all tired," said Chikako before Andy could answer.

"Yes. And hot and thirsty, too," added Misty.

"Don't forget hungry," added Chikako.

"Sure, Akira," said Andy, noticing the sweat dripping down Akira's face and leaking through his shirt.

Andy knelt down and Akira climbed on his back.

"Hang on tight," Andy told him.

Akira could feel Andy's sweat seeping through his own sweaty t-shirt.

"What I wouldn't give for a cold glass of soda or juice," Misty sighed wistfully.

"How much longer, Chikako?" asked Akira.

Chikako got out her D-Phone.

"Not much farther from here. We're almost there, everybody!"

Daiki and Taka and their digimon soon stepped out of the forest into a clearing and whooped for joy. Dragolmon flapped his wings, excitedly and Foximon just smiled.

Akira got off Andy's back, thanked him and ran towards the boys to see what was going on. Mousemon ran after him.

"For being tired, he sure has a lot of energy," pointed out Chikako.

"Forget about it. Come on. Let's go see what's going on," said Misty.

The rest of them ran to the clearing. They had arrived at Digitammamon's restaurant.